New Attendees, Nordic Strength Mark Adventurous 26th Edition of Europe’s Cartoon Movie

Feats of derring-do, bouts of inspiration and a hearty show of strength for Nordic animation are but three of many motifs underscoring this year’s Cartoon Movie, which runs over March 5 – 7 in Bordeaux.

For this year’s 26th edition, the European animation sector’s flagship co-production and pitch forum will spotlight 55 overall projects while welcoming north of 800 industry delegates, with many making inaugural visits.

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Boasting 22 new studios and producers alongside representatives from 42 sales companies and 76 distributors, the sterling attendance sheet also reflects animated fare’s growing importance in sales lineups and in festival curation – a fact echoed by the programers from Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight now attending for the first time.

Nearly finished titles such as Kristina Dufková’s stop-motion teen toon “Living Large” and the Yuletide adventure “SuperKlaus” will screen as sneak-peaks, while Italian auteur Alessandro Rak (“Cinderella the Cat”) will present his latest project, “The Little Prince of Shangri-La,” as a concept pitch.

The Bordeaux showcase will also offer a first-look at Alexis Ducord & Vincent Parronaud’s much-anticipated “Into the Wonderwoods,” though the bulk of this year’s selection – accounting for 34 titles overall – will fall to In Devolvement titles, offering what could be seen as another industry bellwether.

‘Into the Wonderwoods’
‘Into the Wonderwoods’

“There has been an enormous creative boom,” says Cartoon Movie general director Annick Maes. “In the years following the pandemic, people were mostly finishing what was already on the table, what was already in production. They were not creating a lot new material — and now we have this big boost [to make up the difference].”

According to Maes, stories of adventure and tales of perseverance against harsh climatic conditions are some of key thematic throughlines linking many selected projects.

Adapted from an acclaimed psychological thriller set in the Alaskan wilderness, “The Wild Inside” reteams “Summit of the Gods” director Patrick Imbert with producer Damien Brunner (Folivari) for a Y.A. skewing coming-of-age drama with a supernatural twist, while filmmaker Alain Ughetto (“No Dogs or Italians Allowed”) will present “Rose and the Marmots” – a stop-motion fable about a 12-year-old and her blind grandpa living in an unforgiving mountain terrain.

Meanwhile, works like “The Line” and “The Great North Adventure” both pull adventure from the pages of history. Directed by Philippe Rolland and produced by Nicolas de Rosanbo (Eddy Cinema), 2D biopic “The Line” traces the path of French aviation pioneer Jean Mermoz, as Denmark’s Rocket Road Pictures teams with Kuntz animation for the 17th century exploration drama “The Great North Adventure.”

‘The Polar Bear Prince’
‘The Polar Bear Prince’

In fact, the latter title is one of nine Nordic features presenting this year – a marked step-up from previous editions and a figure that Maes connects in part to Cartoon Movie’s Nordic spotlight in 2022. (More interesting still: Norway alone has a leading hand in four projects, including “Pesta,” led by Mikrofilm; “Kaja the Great,” from Storm Films; “Finding Home,” from Trollfilm; and “The Polar Bear Prince” Maipo Film.)

“People are attending who hadn’t dared before,” says Maes, who points to similar results with previous spotlights on Spain and Ukraine. “Our spotlights not only boost [particular] industries and their funding systems, we also try to attract new talents. And then, one or two years later, we can often spot [a commensurate] increase in projects.”

In lieu of a country focus – and in keeping with a dominant trend that finds nearly 25% of this year’s selection adapted from preexisting books and IP – Cartoon Movie will now shine that spotlight on the publishing industry, welcoming delegations from both the literary and gaming worlds as part of a wider effort to turn Cartoon Movie into a transmedia marketplace.

“It’s time to get back to business,” says Maes. “And hopefully, to ensure better sales for European animation around the world. [So I say] stay animated – and stay tuned.”

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